Link: Parent’s Guide to Windows Vista

Parent’s Guide to Windows Vista (Via Computer Science Teacher – Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson.) I’m usually not one for locking down a computer to limit what students can do with it… and I’m still not in this case, but with so little “Vista in Education” news out there, this caught my eye and I’m passing it on. Also, this somewhat relevant to the Internet Awareness and Safety workshops I lead for parents from time to time. In any case, I remember being so excited about Windows XP back when I was implementing it in schools (especially as we integrated it with OS X in our Active Directory infrastructure), but I don’t sense much excitement about Vista in schools at all right now. Is anyone experiencing anything different?

Link: cyberbullying

cyberbullying (Via apophenia.) And here’s a sample of what danah boyd covers at her blog, apophenia. Here, in a discussion of cyberbullying, she takes the reasonable tack that “emphasizing ‘cyber’ the term clouds what’s really going on.” She also notes that cyberbullying is getting so much attention not because the bullying is new or worse than before… rather “bullying over the internet is not just a technological advance of bullying, but an advance that makes the attacks visible to adults.” She goes on in some detail, concluding that bullying is not going away and ending with the following questions:

What are the tactics that we can teach kids to handle bullying? How can we help them process what’s going on? How can we help them strategize how to handle the bullies rather than run away? What would happen if we put our energies into helping those who are attacked lessen the impact of the blows?

Strange Reactions To “Cyber” Safety

And a Picture, Too! (Via 2 Cents Worth.) David Walick posted about a well writen movie review – credited to a 12th grade girl (including her full name and picture). David somewhat cryptically posted that this confused him “in about seven different ways.”

The reaction I saw in the comments is what struck me as strange, though. Four comments prior to mine made this basic point:

Not a good idea from the cyber safety perspective: readers now have the girl’s name, face, area of residence, approximate age, and school district.

One made this point regarding the paper:

Extremely short sighted on the part of the newspaper. Acknowledging the author is one thing. Publishing a picture of a school-age girl is wrong. However, sports sections do it ALL THE TIME!

Personally, I’m glad the girl got credit for her article – and credit equivalent to an adult, complete with her picture next to her article. I don’t usually have such a strong reaction to something I read on a blog (or in blog comments for that matter), so I’m posting my response here, too:

I hope I’m not the only one who has a different take on this… first of all, she’s not 12. She’s a 12th grader, most likely 18 at this point in the year.

Secondly, if newspapers reporting on students using full names and pictures is so normal, why is it so bad online?

I think it’s downright weird that a bunch of cutting edge ed tech folks are so concerned about a picture in the paper.

Don’t we want kids to be able to enjoy their name and picture in the paper – and online? Aren’t we only extra careful about it because the percent of a percent of a percent (or whatever small chance it is) that somebody malicious will misuse the information? And aren’t we only more careful online because the nature of the medium lends itself to ever so slightly easier abuse?

Personally, and this is not the cyber safety presenter speaking now, I think the few malicious types are going to find who they want to find regardless of the medium and I think its too bad – no, a tragedy – that all of us feel like our students have to tip toe around the internet anonymously.

That being said, there is still a lot of room for helping kids learn to be safe online (and in the face-to-face world). I just think the reaction (in these comments) to the article David posted about is a bit sad. Of course, Mark Ahlness did say “given the current state of paranoia in the US” and maybe that’s the real problem.

I accept that I might be in the minority here, but I’m curious what others interested in “Cyber” safety might have to say on the subject… please leave a comment if you have anything to share.

The Value of Collaboration (and Graphic Design)

As I reflect on this week, one theme I find unifying many events for me is the value of collaboration.

This first came to mind on Monday when I presented at the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) District Technology Leaders (DTL) meeting. I was sharing the Internet Awareness and Safety curriculum (for parents and educators) that I’ve been developing in collaboration with the Laguna Beach Unified School District and the Laguna Beach Police Department. The project would not have been possible if Victor Guthrie, the IT director at the Laguna Beach USD, hadn’t approached me about a program that would provide participants with both sides of the web 2.0 story… the benefits and the concerns. Also, there’s no way the workshops would be what they have been if we hadn’t have worked with the police department. It was downright sobering for me to hear the real stories of what has happened locally right in their small (but admittedly attention attracting) town. Now, the OCDE is helping to pay for the project, and I certainly would not have been sharing the curriculum with the other district technology leaders without the support of Sandy Lapham, the administrator of educational technology at the county office.

When I posted some Internet Safety links in preparation for this talk, Anne Bubnic of CTAP Region 4 left a comment about the cybersafety site they’ve created for their region. I checked it out before the DTL meeting and was humbled by their graphic design (in comparison to my bare-bones approach)… their site is very thorough, but very accessible – and it looks great. (In defense of the work we’ve been doing, I think we still contribute an effort to focus on telling both sides of the story… on educating about the benefits to off-set the danger of fear-mongering.)

In any case, I serendipitously happened to then spend Tuesday traveling up to Oakland to present to the equivalent of the DTL group in CTAP Region 4… the Bay Area Regional Council (BARC). Again I was humbled by their work. The presentation used to introduce my talk (prepared by Kathleen Ferenz) was beautiful, animated, full of embedded video, and included interactive elements… complete with toy laser swords! On the fly, I ended up contrasting the elegant design of their cybersafety slides with my barebones design as an example of a 21st Century Literacy I needed to work on myself. (The topic of the meeting was “new literacies.”) In any case, the meeting would not have been what it was without Kathleen’s introductory activities.

I also realized that there is no reason I shouldn’t collaborate with someone to be sure that my work takes advantage of better graphic design. After all, I’m learning that in many ways the “media is the message” – or perhaps the media is at least as important as the message. In any case, my old friend Benton Melbourne may have some new work headed his way next time I am developing any curriculum… or presenting anything for that matter.

So I could go on about all the other collaborations I worked on this week (like the upcoming podcasting workshops put on by CUE, CSUF, and the OCDE), but I think the real value comes from boiling this down to it’s essence: that pursuing collaborations, particularly in place of competition or to shore up weaknesses, is a valuable strategy for success.

Where is the collaboration aphorism that I’m searching for here? Any ideas?

Friday Links: Internet Safety

In keeping with my efforts to try something new with this blog, I post-dated a new entry for each day this week, Monday through Friday. Though I haven’t made the time yet to really catch up in reading my RSS feeds (I have about 2800 unread items at this point), I did manage to post a few new link posts this week, too. The third part of the new plan is to offer a collection of links each Friday, the purpose being to post some of the links that never got out of draft form as individual posts. Some go back more than a year!

At any rate, because I am making a presentation about Internet Awareness, Safety, and Ethics to the Orange County District Technology Leaders (DTL) meeting on Monday morning, I am beginning with my Internet Safety category today, which also has the added benefit of being a relatively small category in my list of drafts.

Some of the links are very old… others were already dead, and they are not included. Still, I hope they wills serve as resources for others as they have for me.

So, here they are… one dozen internet safety links (in chronological order):

  1. Filters and student decision-making (Via Moving at the Speed of Creativity.) On March 14th of last year, Wes Freyer addressed the importance of digital citizenship in the face of Internet safety fears.
  2. Don’t Talk to Invisible Strangers – ANNA BAHNEY, New York Times (Via Educational Technology.) This brief article from March 15th of last year focuses on the sort of fear-mongering presentation I want to avoid. This is why the presentations I do focus on the benefits of the social web first. :)
  3. A VC: MySpace Musings (Via David Brussin.) My friend David Brussin sent me a link to these musings on danah boyd’s work last March 18th.
  4. Password protection for your feed? (Via Teach42) On March 20th 2006, Steve Dembo posted about password protecting an RSS feed, which you might do to protect student information that is syndicated online.
  5. Article: News – MySpace spoofs irk school officials (Via Furl – The rcraven Archive.) Robert Craven linked to this local example last March 24th.
  6. Filter your feeds with Feed Rinse (Via Lifehacker.) Something like Feed Rinse might be used to filter inappropriate material out of student or teacher RSS feeds. This was also posted on March 24, 2006.
  7. Greenhill School: Technology Information: “An Internet safety presentation delivered to upper school parents at Greenhill School. The presentation was delivered on March 27th, 2006 by Chris Bigenho- Director of Educational Technology at Greenhill. All audio files are mp3 format and the slides are provided in pdf and PowerPoint formats. There were 3 video clips used in the presentation. Two of these can be found on the parent resource page and were part of a series produced by Dateline NBC.”
  8. My Space and Our Space (Via Weblogg-ed News: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom.) Will Richardson quotes social networking expert danah boyd: “‘Support people in learning how to negotiate it.’ What a concept.”
  9. An Alternative to DOPA (Via 2 Cents Worth.) A post by David Warlick back on 08/09/06 focusing on the Adam Walsh act.
  10. Student Thoughts on The Danger of MySpace (Via Gary Bertoia.) Who better to go to then the real experts… students. (12/05/06)
  11. Greatest Challenge (Via 2 Cents Worth.) The comments in this more recent (01/24/07) Warlick post are the valuable part. He poses the question: ““What is your greatest challenge in teaching appropriate, ethical use of web-based media to your students?”
  12. Internet Safety Videos (Via Computer Science Teacher – Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson.) Posted on 08/25/2006: “The web site is a joint effort of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. They have a number of excellent videos on cyberbullying and the risks of strangers children can meet online. Most of the videos also have activity cards (often different ones for middle school and high school students), links to related news articles and other supporting resources. These are easily used as part of a curriculum to teach students about safe and responsible behavior on the Internet.”

Enjoy. And please feel free to offer reactions (or additional resources) in the comments.